Real Hoofers 

Stallions prance into Oakland

SUN 6/27

Horses made civilization possible. Their domestication allowed people to travel great distances in far less time than they could walk the same terrain, and the advent of horses in battle gave soldiers not only unprecedented speed but a new nimbleness in attacking and retreating. Without the horse, the Huns couldn't have sacked Rome and the Spanish would not have made much headway in the New World. And while the combustion engine supplanted the horse more than a hundred years ago, the arcane skill of horse riding continues to seize our imaginations. To ride a horse with expertise is to engage in a deep, subtle exchange of signals between the rider's body and the animal's, not unlike communication between lovers. Dancers who ride say that it's similar to dancing in the way it calls on the body to isolate muscles of the legs, back, and arms, to hold oneself up from the lower abs, and shift one's weight in slight, almost imperceptible ways. These shifts make all the difference as to whether the horse can make a jump, or turn a tight corner that its massive size would otherwise defy. And indeed, when real pros ride it is reminiscent of great dancers dancing -- as effortless and inevitable as running water and often as mysterious. The Bay Area is again getting a chance to experience the marvels of top-flight horsemanship with the return of the Lipizzaner Stallions, coming to the Oakland Arena Sunday in two early-bird shows--2 and 6 p.m. These horses -- often white, with strong, rectangular bodies and extremely supple legs -- produce rhythms and maneuvers of great complexity. In "Airs Above the Ground," they float above the earth as they perform spectacular leaps and sudden direction changes. These movements, designed for the battlefield, are now the sine qua non of equestrian art. Also featured in this show is a dance called the Grand Quadrille that might have been plucked out of a 17th-century court, featuring between six and eight stallions marching and weaving among one another to music. All the routines are new; the music is fresh and the horses are sublime. Tickets cost $17.50-22.50. Call 510-569-2121 for info and 510-762-2277 or Tickets.com for reservations. -- Ann Murphy

SAT 6/26

Overboard

Down to the sea in costume

What should one expect at the Bay Area English Regency Society's Masters' and Commanders' Ball? Live period dance music. Imposing 19th-century Royal Navy uniforms and fanciful, frilly gowns, to be sure. A few sabers, maybe. One or two muskets? Pirates? Pitched battles at sea? Rum, sodomy, and the lash? No, it should be a fairly genteel affair at the ball this Saturday, 7:30-11:30 p.m., at the Arlington Community Church Hall, 52 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Try to have fun anyway. Maybe Russell Crowe will show up, reeking of Madeira. $20 door. Info: 415-353-0474. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 6/27

Sunday Night Satire

The filmography of humorist Darryl Henriques reads like a schizophrenic's Netflix queue. He's known around here as a former member of the SF Mime Troupe and East Bay Sharks, and in lefty circles as the author of the satirical conservationist tome 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Pave the Earth. But there are plenty of folks worldwide who know him as "that guy from Star Trek IV" or from Jumanji, or Vibes, or the Rocketeer, or -- heaven forfend -- Police Academy 6. Give the man his dignity by attending his performance at the Freight & Salvage this Sunday. Show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $17.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door. 510-548-1761, TheFreight.org -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 6/24

Chucke Champ

You'd think a comedy award would have a catchy name, like the Laughies or the Jester Merit Prize or something. Still, the 2002 champion of the McDonald's Bay Area Black Comedy Competition and Festival is an award worth having -- and Rodney Perry has it. Perry also has a role as Uncle Lump in the recent Cedric the Entertainer vehicle Johnson Family Vacation, and has toured as the opener for Ray Charles and Run-DMC. But Thursday night, Perry headlines "The New Faces of Comedy: Stars of Tomorrow" event at Kimball's Carnival (522 2nd St., Oakland), with Joey Wells providing stand-up backup, and Uncle Tim Jackson hosting. 21 and up, $15. 510-444-6979. -- Stefanie Kalem

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